Search marketing is tough but oh so worth the effort!

PPC, or pay-per-click advertising, can be a tough nut to fully crack.

For some companies, PPC is similar to a stubborn pistachio that doesn’t quite want to come out of its shell. Businesses might experiment with a few campaigns and even have some success, but ultimately, PPC is very often used to far less than its full potential and eventually abandoned in favour of easier, more accessible strategies.

Part of the reason for the rampant suboptimal PPC implementation is the complexity that comes with running campaigns, bidding on keywords, collecting and interpreting large amounts of data, managing a set budget and measuring results. It’s a lot to take on, especially if you’re a small business owner figuring it out yourself or just a digital marketer who lacks extensive PPC experience. The other cause for confusion with PPC is the false notion that it’s a one-dimensional digital marketing cog that serves only to deliver you an expected amount of traffic for a fixed-cost. While that is certainly one of the upsides of PPC, it’s not the only reason to add pay-per-click to your digital arsenal and there are definitely other ways it can make a big difference to your bottom line.

Use PPC to Inform and Improve SEO

You’ve probably read the articles that vehemently support either PPC or SEO while recommending that you eschew the other tactic. SEO detractors might claim that it doesn’t work or takes a longer time to garner results, and PPC naysayers often insist that the money isn’t worth the return on investment. The truth is that both PPC and SEO are very good digital marketing tactics and, like most aspects of marketing your services online, the one that’s right for your business depends on many factors. The ability to adapt to the rapidly shifting landscape of the Internet and recognize the combinations of strategies and tactics that deliver the best results is the most important component of great digital marketing campaigns. There’s too much change in the digital marketing game to get stuck on one tactic or strategy – if you develop a narrow focus, your company will fall behind your adaptive competitors.

For most businesses, the best course of action is often to use PPC and SEO in tandem, which makes sense since they both focus on getting your business found via search engines. PPC is all about finding high-value, low cost keywords that generate converting traffic, so if set up and tracked correctly, the results of a PPC campaign should highlight great long-term SEO targets. For example, let’s say you try a PPC campaign that includes four different keywords (we’ll call them A, B, C and D, with A being the most expensive term). After a month, the results show that even though A is the most expensive term, C is the keyword that generated the most conversions (whether it’s buying a product or signing up for a newsletter). At this point you should probably do some keyword research to confirm your findings, but because it’s doing so well in the PPC campaign, it’s likely that C is a term for you to focus on with your SEO efforts.

Another thing that suggests PPC and SEO make a great strategic match is their combined effect on search engine results pages (SERPs). Small studies have shown that when a PPC ad and an organic ranking appear on the same SERP, good things happen. This particular data set found that when PPC ads and organic listings for the same business appear, the click-through-rate (CTR) increases by 7%. Even more interesting is the when paid and organic listings appear on the same SERP, the CTR for the PPC ad alone actually increases. This means that not only can you use PPC data to inform your SEO results, but you can also use the two tactics in tandem to generate more clicks and a higher conversion rate – which ultimately means more sales and money!

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